Friday, March 16, 2012

The Ghost of Chris Cohan No Longer Haunts Me

In-between championships, the only thing an NBA team can give a fan is sorrow and hope. If you’re not a fan of the Heat, Bulls, Magic, Thunder, Spurs or Lakers, I hate to break it to you, but you won’t get to see a victory parade. If you’re a fan of the other 24 teams, the only thing I have to offer you is hope, a fleeting commodity.

Since your team won’t win a championship this year, all they can offer you is the hope that they will win a championship in a future season. To that end, there are many signs of hope. If your team can just make the playoffs, any idiot can tell you that a continued upwards progression will inevitably result in a championship! Or if your team is still terrible, a breakout game from a young player means that he just might become that star to lead them to glory. If you have had no shot at a championship or hope for the majority of the last 18 years, congratulations, you are a fan of the Golden State Warriors.

I know it will probably come as a shock to our readers, but I’m not actually Franklin Mieuli, long-time owner of the Golden State Warriors who died two years ago. You see, when we first started this blog, I thought we were going to do the whole alias thing a la FreeDarko. But then everybody else used their real names and my moniker made no sense (though I’d be glad I didn’t use my real name if I were to ever be so crass as to write a post entitled Dwight Howard: Stop Being a Dick).

I chose this alias as a nod to the only owner to ever inspire hope in Warriors fans. I have written a lot about hope, culture and progress because really, it is all that us Warriors fans have. It is no coincidence that the slogan for the only Warriors playoff team in the last 18 years was “We Believe.”

There have been a few hope-filled moments in the past few years: Joe Lacob buying the team, Robert Rowell being fired and Jerry West being hired, but none of this did anything to change the play on the court. We were still the running, gunning, no defense or discipline team of the past, content to exist in basketball purgatory between the playoffs and tanking. I got so frustrated that I (metaphorically) tore up my thrice rewritten piece on what Stephen Curry means to Oakland and instead indulged in self-pity and sorrow.

But finally, as if heeding my advice, Lacob and co. blew it all up. Two starters and 48 hours later, this is the moment that will define the Warriors of my 20’s which, let’s be honest, will define my 20’s.

I don’t know if the Warriors are going to win a championship anytime soon—I suspect not, as a core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and Andrew Bogut doesn’t seem likely to scare Durant, Westbrook and Harden or any other good teams—but the change is already evident on the court in the two games since the Warriors traded away Ellis and Udoh. The ball moves faster, the defense works harder, and it looks like whichever five guys are on the court together are playing a team game.

I bought tickets for Monday night’s game against the Timberwolves a few weeks ago. When Stephen Curry re-injured his ankle for the millionth time, and then especially when Ricky Rubio tore his ACL, the game lost all of its luster. I had bought the tickets to see Rubio, Williams and Love up close, not to watch the Warriors. Yet when Ellis and Udoh were traded, I immediately bought tickets to today’s game against the Bucks. A large part of that motivation was to give Monta the standing ovation that he truly deserves, but equally important was the opportunity to see what these new Warriors look like. From what I have seen on TV (pirated stream) the last few nights, I’m more excited than ever about the future of the Golden State Warriors.

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